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Sound designer lands his first big production

Lukas Vanderlip really wasn’t interested in the theatre.
Lukas Vanderlip WCT
Lukas Vanderlip, 19, did the sound design for Western Canada Theatre’s latest production, Armstrong’s War. It’s just one of the Thompson Rivers University student’s multiple talents.

Lukas Vanderlip really wasn’t interested in the theatre.

Sure, his older sister Kora had enjoyed working Western Canada Theatre’s Stage One summer program and loved being in its production of Video Killed the Fairytale Star — but Lukas wasn’t keen on joining her on stage.

However, the next year — and not yet in his teens — both Kora and Lukas were registered again for the educational programming run out of Pavilion Theatre. It was 2008 and the production class was going to perform Charlotte’s Web.

Lukas was cast, as he puts it, in the role of the obnoxious brother — and, “after getting out there and starting to perform, it felt like, well, it was a lot of fun,” the now 19-year-old Thompson Rivers University student said.

In ensuing years, both continued acting but started to branch out into other areas, Kora into making short films and Lukas into creating music. In 2014, as Kora was creating Last Fall, she told her brother she was struggling to find the kind of music she wanted for the short film.

“I had a Yamaha keyboard,” Lukas said, “so I worked on something for her. I took her camera and recorded the keyboard on its microphone.”

His music eventually became the backdrop for the film he also starred in, and Last Fall was the winner in the youth category at the Kamloops Film Festival and chosen best overall in the Vancouver Film School’s Zoomfest, which saw actors Marina Lee and Lukas ranked second and third best in the best individual performance category. Last Fall also won for best director and best sound design, taking third in best cinematography and second in best script to screen.

Since then, Lukas has created music for other films his sister has made, but it was the work he did last year on the Westsyde secondary theatre-students production of Medea that landed him his current musical gig — doing the sound design for the last play of the season for WCT.

Heather Cant, who is directing Armstrong’s War, said she saw Medea last year and, when she learned Lukas had done the sound, she knew she wanted to see him use his talents somehow at the theatre where he began.

Lukas said because the play is set in the 2006-2007 era, he’s drawn inspiration from the pop songs of that time but has adapted the sound to reflect a bit of the Middle Eastern feel that is invoked by the play itself, the story of a veteran of the Afghanistan war and a young, wheelchair-bound girl who has been assigned to read to him in his rehabilitation-centre room.

Lukas said he hopes the music he’s developed “calls back to the war” and plays well with the set itself, one designed to evoke the sand and desolation of the Afghan countryside.

He said it’s been a challenge for him “to go small with the music instead of big,” but he’s happy with what he’s created, playing on acoustic and electric guitar.

It’s not his first time doing sound for WCT but it’s his first big production. A few years ago, he not only created but played live onstage the sound for the Stage One production of Oz.

As for a future in sound design, Lukas said he’s not really sure. His educational interest is in ancient history and he can see himself at some point as a curator in a museum somewhere.

However, there’s still that musical side pulling at him.

“If I could make a living off it, I would do it for sure.”